As most are aware, the individuals mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—commonly known as Obamacare—legally requires all Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty tax. It is estimated that some 50 million Americans are uninsured. In 2018, the penalty for a single individual is $695 or 2.5% of income. For families, the penalty is $2,085 or 2.5% of income. The maximum penalty is $13,100.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kind of disposable income lying around—and that number has gotten higher. Compare 2018 to 2014. In 2014, the penalty for a single individual was $95 or 1% of income. For families, the penalty was $285 or 1% of income, and the maximum penalty was $9,800. This is a significant difference compared to current numbers.  

The bottom line is, Obamacare has thrown many Americans right in the middle of a rock and a hard place. The high premiums are not affordable, but the penalty tax is not either. Thankfully, the individual mandate will no longer be in effect in 2019—but this does not help the families currently struggling with nearly a year to go. The Trump administration is working to repeal the ACA, but it might take years to get a new system in place.

Solution?

Of course, going without insurance and simply paying the penalty is an option, as many Americans are already doing. However, there is a way to still get healthcare coverage and not break the bank from sky-rocking premiums.

That solution is healthshare programs.

Healthshare programs, also called healthshare ministries and health cost-sharing ministries, among other names, are not insurance and are not regulated like insurance. Members pay a monthly fee, similar to a premium but significantly lower. That money is then put into a collective, which is used to pay for members’ qualifying medical expenses.

By making the switch to healthshares, families are often able to cut their payments in half. In addition, members of healthshares that (1) have continuously been around since or prior to December 31, 1999, and (2) are a non-profit 501(c) organization are exempt from paying the penalty.

These plans are not for everyone, because they do want their members to be in pretty good health when they join.. But if they work for you, the payments are affordable, and you will not have to pay the individual mandate for not having an ACA-compliant plan. Healthcare sharing ministries help wiggle you free of that rock and hard place by lifting the financial burden.